Denuvo PC Performance Impact Tested - DOOM Benchmarks With and Without Denuvo DRM

Written by Jon Sutton on Sat, Apr 8, 2017 4:00 PM
System Requirements Optimum 1080p PC Build Low vs Ultra Screenshots GPU Performance Chart CPU List That Meet System Requirements GPU List That Meet System Requirements

I’ve never been totally sold on the argument that Denuvo anti-tamper DRM has a big effect on performance. I’ve played plenty of games that feature Denuvo and happen to run great, so I discounted it as a fallacy. As Denuvo becomes more and more of a hot topic however, I wondered whether there was anything that could be done to settle this argument once and for all. To answer the all-important question - does Denuvo affect PC performance.

Now, saying this and doing it are two different matters entirely. Either a game has Denuvo or it doesn’t, meaning there’s no real way to compare performance. There is one that’s a little different though. DOOM. Bethesda published DOOM in May 2016. It ran on the id Tech 6 engine with OpenGL and, shortly after launch, Vulkan support. It was also protected by Denuvo. The key word being ‘was’, because id Software patched Denuvo out of DOOM in December 2016. Boot up DOOM now and it’s Denuvo-free.

What’s cool about this is that we extensively benchmarked DOOM at launch, while reviewing graphics cards, and when Vulkan support was added. We have a very clear idea of how DOOM ran before Denuvo was removed. So as an experiment it seems logical to test DOOM now, after Denuvo has been removed, and we can see whether performance has indeed got better without the notorious DRM.

A quick disclaimer before we get into this. A lot has changed since we did our GTX 1060 Vulkan benchmarks in July 2016. There has been literally dozens of new Nvidia drivers, any of which may have a positive (or negative) impact on DOOM’s performance. DOOM itself has also been patched, another factor which may affect performance. To that end, we do not know for sure the results of this benchmark are directly indicative of Denuvo’s performance impact, but they do at least form some sort of guideline.

Aside from that, everything remains exactly the same for these benchmarks. It’s the same benchmark run, on the same level, performed three times at each setting, with the exact same hardware. Under the hood we have an MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G, an Intel Core i7-5820K CPU and 16GB DDR4 memory.

DOOM with Denuvo vs DOOM Post-Denuvo - GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, Intel Core i7-5820K, 16GB DDR4 RAM

  Denuvo No DRM
1080p OpenGL 98 104
1080p Vulkan 100 107
1440p OpenGL 72 72
1440p Vulkan 76 75

Well, these results leave us none the wiser. My initial 1080p benchmarks seemed fairly conclusive - Denuvo DRM causes a 6-7% decrease in frame rates. However, at 1440p there was nothing between the two. I tested it multiple times to double check and sure enough, there's no impact. However I just can't ignore that 6% frame rate cost at 1080p. It could be down to anything; new drivers; a patch; even that it's cooler in the testing room today; or it could be that Denuvo is indeed having a noticeable performance impact. 

There's also question marks hanging over the CPU. The intel 5820K is a bit of a beast, it's comfortable handling high loads. Denuvo allegedly puts a repeated strain on both CPU and RAM, so there is potential the difference could be even more noticeable on a system with a weaker processor. Maybe then Denuvo does actually cause a crippling drop in frame rate. Unfortunately without results from before Denuvo was removed, we can't test it effectively.

Coming from a position where I didn't necessarily believe Denuvo had a noticeable performance impact, this is has certainly opened my eyes to the possibility it could on certain machines. There's some big question marks raised over the veracity of these results, but taking them at a face value there is an impact, and if this impact is proportionately larger with weaker hardware, it's easier to see some more noticeable frame rate drops happening.

Again, we can neither confirm nor deny Denuvo DRM affects PC game performance, but the results are what they are. What do you make of them? And have you noticed any sure-fire times when Denuvo has affect your PC gaming performance? Let us know!

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09:50 Apr-10-2017

We need articles like this one. We can discuss the method but it has the merit of reopening the debate about DRM. Some dev' must realise that they are only punishing the people who buy their games.

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10:45 Apr-10-2017

they wont learn, bro :(

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20:25 Apr-10-2017

((Western Narrator)):"And that's when Denuvo realized that when you grab a bull by its horns, sometimes,
he'll take you for a ride"

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21:06 Apr-10-2017

and a bumpy one :D

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22:11 Apr-10-2017

Would of been funny if you used "And that's when Denuvo realized.... they fked up."

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02:34 Apr-10-2017

Should it have been there in the first place? Weeeell that's a big debate. I just think its cool that Bethesda removed it after people cracked it!

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00:24 Apr-10-2017

Really interesting i was looking for this

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00:01 Apr-10-2017

What I suspect happened was GPU getting to it's limit at 1440p, so CPU effect of Denuvo wasn't present. While at 1080p, it was going heavier on CPU, where performance difference was actually small. But even then 6-7FPS at around 100 won't really make much difference. But you could increase it by lowering, freeing GPU.

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08:22 Apr-10-2017

think of it this way that you are getting only 53 and need 7 more for 60
or are getting 23 and need 7 to get 30 :/

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14:18 Apr-11-2017

That really depends on where you are CPU wise. If GPU is weaker on your end, difference would be 1-2FPS at best. However if you have low end CPU, then you would get bigger difference. As I said, if they would put graphic settings lower, they would probably see bigger difference. So yeah, bad news for low end systems.

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22:47 Apr-09-2017

Denuvo and DRM has the habit of making me close my wallet and go look for another game. Which can have a bad effect on the wallets of developers. -grin-

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14:47 Apr-09-2017

thats a beasty processor, what about people like us?
i mean who have i3s and standard i5s ?

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09:02 Apr-10-2017

Alright buddy, unfortunately I could only (semi) reliably do these benchmarks if I used the exact same hardware as the original tests. It's now impossible to re-benchmark DOOM with Denuvo unfortunately.

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18:42 Apr-10-2017

In a way I'm glad it IS impossible to re-bench. It means we won't deal with denuvo in this game :D

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07:19 Apr-11-2017

oh , i get it
no prob bro :)

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10:20 Apr-09-2017

I bought Doom and after 2 hours I asked for a refund while I did benchmark it all the time, 1 week later I got the CPY cracked version. I got up to 10% better framerates. My 1% and 0.1% lows were about 25% higher, this was perceivable.

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14:33 Apr-09-2017

But what about the disclaimer in the article? How did you make sure none of that applied to your own testing?

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19:08 Apr-09-2017

Both the Denuvo based game and non Denuvo based game had the same game version, the same NVIDIA drivers and the same settings. I bought the game when it was basically already cracked, it took some weeks before they officialy removed denuvo.

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22:17 Apr-09-2017

alright, fair enough

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06:35 Apr-09-2017

Denuvo create stuttering in most game

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14:33 Apr-09-2017

source?

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03:28 Apr-09-2017

So statistics 101, graphs need to start at 0.

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14:14 Apr-09-2017

ikr. 60-fps-people these days.

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22:24 Apr-09-2017

It was intentionally started with 60 as none of the tests dropped below it :D

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00:42 Apr-11-2017

plus this wasnt a benchmark to show different hardware playing the game, it was a graph used to make a point. if there was no numbers it was still showing that possibly denuvo was hindering performance. the numbers just clarified it.

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20:47 Apr-08-2017

i think denuvo dont use gpu at all, requests being send to cpu instead so this test is irrelevant.

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00:07 Apr-09-2017

If the test was irrelevant then you wouldn't be think you would be knowing instead.

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00:45 Apr-11-2017

so if you think requests to the cpu are irrelevant, then underclock your cpu and see what happens. essentially what you are saying is using the cpu more shouldnt hinder performance which is like slowing it down.
or play a movie online and see what your games act like.

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20:43 Apr-08-2017

please use standard gaming desktop testing cpu spec i5 4460 3.2ghz gpu spec GTX 1050ti 4gb Ram 8gb

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00:46 Apr-11-2017

this isnt about the hardware being tested. its all about the game performance variance.

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19:47 Apr-08-2017

Denuvo eats cpu cycle coz it keeps encrypting/decrypting "data" on the fly and "To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction" as simple as that..

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14:35 Apr-09-2017

yeah, but do you have a source that tells us how much this can actually affect performance? "To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction" can be said for everything, its the relative impact that matters.

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22:13 Apr-09-2017

My point is you don't get something from nothing even when its seemingly tiny process in the background. You can download a cracked denuvo game and compare it with the uncracked one.

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20:16 Apr-09-2017

Well,from my part MSI says-legal DooM eats my CPU 80-85 % vs CPY's-50-60 % max, at both Ultra.Rise of Tomb Raider-50-60% vs 35-45 % on Ultra,too.Closed Opera and Vivaldi,only games are running.

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18:26 Apr-08-2017

On 900p I get 10 fps more in pirated copy as compared to original one.I am getting more fps in mass effect andromeda too around 4-5 fps more.

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00:09 Apr-09-2017

Piracy is a thing not to be talked about on here.

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02:54 Apr-09-2017

Dude you say that piracy is a thing not to be talked about on here but on the other hand gd is releasing articles about mass effect andromeda cracked,resident evil cracked in 5 days, lol that's a kind of hypocrisy.

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07:32 Apr-09-2017

Those articles are not saying that people would get more frames from a pirated copy of the game they are talking about news on what happens to a system or a game just like every other website does when they make an articles to tell the news on what is happening in the gaming world but saying "oh i get more frames in this game when i pirated it" gives people the idea to pirate the game instead if the performance might be a little better which is pretty much promoting such an act.

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07:41 Apr-09-2017

Also try pointing out in the whole article where is the mention of piracy because really there isn't a hint of it mentioned at all because he owns the game which if he downloads a cracked copy of the game as long as you own the original copy of the game it is not piracy because the term piracy for gaming is something you do not own at all and obtained it illegally.

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07:57 Apr-09-2017

He has a point you know if you take your time to think on what you have said really and worded it out more properly.

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13:26 Apr-09-2017

How do you get the idea that I don't own the game I clearly said that I get more fps in pirated copy as compared to original so obviously it means I own original to compare both.

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13:35 Apr-09-2017

Dude if words like piracy,hacking and cracking are taboo on gd than gd should avoid posting articles on cracked games because people will than talk about it just like they do in every other site.

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13:06 Apr-09-2017

Ecks30 pls stop acting like you are that one guy that bought Winrar and haven't pirated a single thing in your life.

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14:31 Apr-09-2017

I pirated music in the past when Napster was a thing but ever since i ended up buying my music instead and also if i download a MP3 today i make sure i own the original cassette or CD which doesn't lead to piracy again also i use 7zip because i find it is better that Winrar and it is a program you don't have to buy.

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15:19 Apr-09-2017

XD hahah, but if Winrar was better you would buy it right XD? (Btw i use 7Zip to if that is of any importance :D ).

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16:54 Apr-09-2017

I liked Winrar in the past but just got annoyed by the pop ups mentioning to buy the program so i looked for an alternative and i wasn't going to use the windows zip program added into windows cause i tend to find it doesn't compress well.

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14:05 Apr-09-2017

Kaz I am a straight forward person I don't like to twist my words.People on gd are the once who are really passionate and knowledgeable about gaming so they can understand that both me and article are saying same thing using different words

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02:05 Apr-09-2017

I am not talking about piracy and not even provoking someone to practice piracy,I am only talking about stuff related to topic.This whole article is about a fps test between a game with drm and other without drm in other words pirated copy.

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02:12 Apr-09-2017

But you just said and i quote "On 900p I get 10 fps more in pirated copy as compared to original one." which that would be talking about piracy which by just saying that you got 10 more fps on a pirated copy over the original is just like promoting piracy.

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02:27 Apr-09-2017

Bro like not talking about piracy will solve the problem of piracy.You talk like I am promoting piracy.In an article like this people will talk about there experiences between denuvo copies and non denuvo copies aka pirated copies.

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15:57 Apr-09-2017

They patched doom to remove denuvo. That means it is an official, non cracked version of doom. Therefore the article is not talking about a pirated version of doom at all.

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09:10 Apr-09-2017

On short: GD talks about the downfall on denuvo and they're laughing over it. They're not supporting piracy because it gives the site bad image imo.

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19:37 Apr-09-2017

Hey everyone. Just to make it clear, no, we do not support piracy on GD. So we ask people to keep discussions about it where they belong, in discussion areas like these because the article's topic is relevant to it.
That being said, I don't think for a second pandeyrahul309's comment was out of line. In fact it even enforces what the article is actually about and so his comment is very relevant to the discussion.
So his comment needs neither moderation from us, nor a backlash from the community.

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22:03 Apr-09-2017

Thank you I didn't want to escalate this but this gets little bit out of hands.

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23:37 Apr-09-2017

Nice one to Divayth and you. I personally never saw a problem either. People get too touchy where no "touchyness" is due. :)

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21:08 Apr-09-2017

Solution:
Step 1) Buy the game
Step 2) Download a cracked version
Step 3) Play the cracked version for performance reasons
Step 4) Enjoy and don't let anyone tell you you're a pirate because you bought the damn game.

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00:22 Apr-10-2017

Buying a game with eg. Denuvo is also financial support for it, and Playing the cracked version (theoretically more stable ver.) at the same time isn't really a win=win situation.

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00:20 Apr-12-2017

I know, it's a hack. But it does let you play your games DRM-free and offline though, I'm not necessarily talking denuvo here. It's also a way to slip around the system - "hey, I bought the game - not a pirate!" :)

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17:34 Apr-08-2017

Jon i think this should help for an definite answer. Conan Exiles early access was released pirately without Denuvo while the original has Denuvo. benchmark and see the results of both the copies. i am sure we would get the answer to this arguement.

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22:33 Apr-08-2017

But both are different builds with different optimization levels...

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03:51 Apr-09-2017

well i guess we have to ask the devs themselves for this as there can be no answer to this argument. and yeah i think Denuvo does impact performance a bit including slow startup along with constant CPU usage. i think we might have to use Rivatuner to bench the CPU usage in the Denuvo and non DRM copy of DOOM.

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17:25 Apr-08-2017

All company should be like cdpr support no drm

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12:30 Apr-09-2017

Amen to that!

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14:37 Apr-09-2017

That would be fantastic, but if this would mean more company's would only release there games on the consoles I would still rather have them with a DRM then not at all...

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08:30 Apr-10-2017

They are earning more from pc platform than they are losing to piracy.
so, if they decide not to release a game on pc, they will lose money.

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00:23 Apr-12-2017

@Altairofrivia (lol, cool nick xD) - if they all went with no DRM like CDPR then they'd haver to start making decent games! Because by gosh nobody would buy anything from Ebisoft or EA or even Bioware now if DRM didn't exist to protect their bug-ridden messes... xD

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17:11 Apr-08-2017

Would love to see this restested with a lower end CPU (A pentinum or i3?)

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19:22 Apr-08-2017

i agree, with a core i5 also... I think that in those cases the difference will be much greater

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02:22 Apr-09-2017

For the i5 models i think it should be at least the i5 6400 since it is only 185$ for starters and is something average people would own.

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16:54 Apr-08-2017

So at 1080p and lower res Denuvo has considerable impact on performance? I guess that makes sense because 1080p and below requires higher clocks from CPU than higher resolutions in order to gain more FPS...

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17:19 Apr-08-2017

Possibly does....
There have been a bunch of gpu updates and other game updates besides the patch to remove denuvo. In reality, this is inconclusive. Too many variables to make an actual determination on what is causing the performance difference.

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18:27 Apr-08-2017

best solution is to try with a pirated copy ( same version, same update).

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18:46 Apr-08-2017

and then downgrade gpu to same driver version, remove windows updates to get to the same version too.

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16:04 Apr-09-2017

If you haven't figured out, I'm trying to prove that you would literally have to do too much work, while also having to find an exact same version of doom (release day version) that doesn't have denuvo (doubt you could) just to do this with as little amount of variables as possible.

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Can They Run... |

Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 3070 AFOX 8GB 32GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
Pentium G2020 2.9GHz GeForce GTX 960 Gigabyte OC 2GB Edition 8GB
Core i3-9100F 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1650 8GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 9 5900HX 8-Core 3.3GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
Core i7-2600 4-Core 3.40GHz Radeon HD 5770 1024MB 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-6800K 6-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 970 MSI Gaming 4GB Edition 32GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-920 Quad 2.67GHz GeForce GTX 970 4GB 24GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz Radeon RX 580 Sapphire Nitro+ 4GB 16GB
| Ultra, 1440p
Core i9-10900K 10-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 3090 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 24GB 32GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 5800X 8-Core 3.8GHz Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB 32GB
Ryzen 5 2600 GeForce GTX 1660 Ti MSI Ventus XS OC 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-11700K 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 6GB Edition 32GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-11700K 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 6GB Edition 32GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB